Lawsuit Seeks to Boot de Blasio-Backed Assembly Candidate Off the Ballot
BROOKLYN — An Assembly candidate endorsed by Mayor Bill de Blasio and other prominent Democratic politicians should be disqulified because of "highly questionable" and "deceitful" voter registration filings, a lawsuit says.
Michele Adolphe, a candidate for the 42nd District seat being vacated by long-time Assemblywoman Rhonda Jacobs, said records show her rival Rodneyse Bichotte failed to submit a voter registration application when she moved to New York from Illinois.
"As far as we are concerned she is not a New York state registered voter," Adolphe said in an interview. "I am challenging her right to run. She is not qualified and the Board of Elections should have removed her entirely."
Adolphe also alleges that on several change of address forms, Bichotte's signature appears wildly different.
According to the lawsuit, the signatures on a June 24, 2012 change of address and June 26 Affidavit of Oath are "remarkably and completely differing." Comparing those signatures to an Aug. 24, 2014 document on Bichotte's website shows that the "signature bears no resemblance" to Bichotte's other signatures on file.
The Board of Elections did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Candidates for state Senate or Assembly must be a citizen, at least 18 years of age and a "resident of state for 5 years and resident of district for 12 months immediately preceding election," according to the board's website.
Bichotte's campaign referred questions to her attorney, Aaron Maslow, who called the lawsuit frivolous because he says his client has lived in the district and in the state for more than five years.
"It's total nonsense, like how these crackpots are out to remove President Obama from office by saying he wasn't born in Hawaii," Maslow said. "Her last voter registration form she signed right in front of me."
Maslow also believes the suit will be tossed because the deadline to challenge candidates passed in July. He also believes the lawsuit is retribution after Bichotte unsuccessfully challenged Adolphe's ballot petitions.
"Adolphe had visions of grandeur that she would be elected but she didn't get the attention," said Maslow, who said he will seek to have Adolphe pay Bichotte's legal fees because of the "frivolous nature of the lawsuit."
Adolphe says that's not the case.
"I'm challenging her qualifications to become our representative," she said.
Bichotte, a district leader from Flatbush, racked up an endorsement from de Blasio last month after she was an early supporter of his mayoral campaign.
"I've had the privilege of watching Rodneyse Bichotte grow into a great leader and organizer in her time in public service," de Blasio said in a statement announcing the endorsement, "and I am confident that she will be not just a fierce advocate for the people in her district, but also a strong leader for the city of New York."
Bichotte's other endorsements include Public Advocate Letitia James, City Councilman Jumaane Williams and unions such as the Hotels Trade Council and 32 BJ SEIU.
Bichotte ran against the retiring Jacobs in 2012 but lost. Her website says she holds a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from SUNY Buffalo, a masters in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
This is Adolphe's third run for the seat. She lists herself as the founder of the Brooklyn Institute for Children, an early childhood center, on her Facebook page.
Other candidates include L. Rickie Tulloch and Victor Jordan.
A hearing on the case is expected on Thursday.